Manifest A.R. is above and beyond the normal realm of art. Instead of remaining on a canvas or frozen in clay, it exists in the virtual realm, programmed with GPS coordinates.
This past week Rick Rinehart, the director of The Samek Art Gallery, traveled to San Jose to see how the other half of the Manifest A.R. Zero 1 biennial exhibit was going. He certainly had a lot of interesting concepts to take back to Lewisburg with him.
During Rick’s presentation “Slideshow from Nowhere” this past Tuesday night, he provided many thought provoking concepts including whether there is a “there” there…wait, what?
While speaking about Oakland California Gertrude Stein once commented that “There is no there there.” She meant that there was no substance to the area, that there wasn’t anything there. It is worth questioning, since there is a lot of toxic waste buried beneath the towns within Silicon Valley. There are factories producing this toxic waste, which are built on top on toxic waste dumps. There are even beautiful parks built above what used to be toxic waste dumps. This made me think of the mythical phoenix, the bird that is born out of ashes. The concept of beauty coming out of destruction, the theme of absence and presence is very important to augmented reality.
This brings up the idea of showing something that is there, but isn’t easy to see at first glance. The containers of toxic waste buried underground isn’t the first thing that you might think of when you see parks in San Jose, but they are there. Manifest A.R. is bringing the same concept into play with Augmented Reality. Their artwork is there, you just need a little help to see it.
Gallery Intern Morgan Slade stated “Prior to attending Rick’s lecture, I had little understanding of the context of the works displayed in the ZERO1 Biennial. I was so caught up in the technological aspect of downloading the QR reader and the Layar app and then understanding how these images were showing up through my iPad screen, that I failed to recognize the true “artiness” and purpose of each work. While the Manifest.AR exhibition is more advanced technologically than say, what we consider to be a traditional exhibition, this doesn’t take away from the message that these works represent. Take, for example, the Layar app., From Lewisburg to Silicon Valley, which displays a series of men falling in space. Last week, these figures were simply animated, nameless figures showing up in my viewfinder around campus. After hearing the information that Rick brought back from San Jose, it is clear that these figures in fact have an identity, and fit into a very specific societal critique.”
“While the campuses of many Silicon-Valley based businesses are symbols of progress and wealth, this is not the case for the overseas manufacturers that cater to these brands. Manufacturers, such as Foxconn have been known to enforce harsh labor conditions, resulting in many victims of suicide. In providing images of the falling men to both Silicon Valley and Lewisburg through the ZERO1 Biennial, both populations are made aware of this injustice.”
The messages being told through Manifest A.R.’s work have strong social messages, but they may be hard to understand as a simple civilian using the Layar app to view the art. That is why it’s art; all art is difﬁcult to understand at ﬁrst, until you understand the real meanings behind it. This is where art and technology mix.
After telling you about our opinions about Manifest A.R., we invite you to share your ideas! What do you think about Manifest A.R.? What visual would you provide through augmented reality? What would you write in the sky?
What would you highlight for all of Silicon Valley and Lewisburg to know?
Katrina Hefele ‘13
Morgan Slade ‘13